The project has missed several internal deadlines, payment was withheld a couple of times, sub-contractors are complaining about non-payment of dues and recently the chief minister reportedly threatened the contractor, DSC Limited, with blacklisting because of its tardiness. The project manager sometime back wrote to the government asking for emergency powers to change the contractor but was not given the green signal. PWD sources now say the May deadline is impossible to meet. If monsoon is delayed, they may be able to do it by June or it may stretch even to July because carpeting cannot happen till 24 hours after the last shower.
The last internal deadline that was missed was for Crossing Cantilever Launching (CLC) technical ESE for joining two pillars on either side of an existing road — for the stretches across Ring Road and across Lala Lajpat Rai Marg which were to be finished by March. It is yet to be done.
‘‘Given the absolutely tight schedule, this is a serious lapse. The chief minister has taken three-four meetings. In the last meeting which happened 10-15 days back, she even threatened them with blacklisting. We had, at one point, withheld a payment of about Rs 2 crore but that was released later and any other punitive action will now have to wait for the road to be completed. We can’t risk anything at this point,’’ said a senior PWD official.
He conceded that the initial delays had happened over land procurement from the Railways and Delhi Transco but ‘‘over the last few months, it is the contractor who has been playing truant, delaying work, not responding to our missives and even not procuring important equipment like launchers on time,’’ he added.
PWD minister Rajkumar Chauhan conceded that he has been flooded with complaints from sub-contractors of the project. ‘‘Many people have come to me with complaints. They are the only contractors against whom there has been such a flurry of complaints. These things naturally lead to tardy pace of work. We are not allowing it to happen because of our vigilance but this is not a healthy sign.’’ He added that the company has been pressing for a 10% hike in the money to be paid for the Rs 450-crore project. ‘‘We will not accept their demand,’’ he said. He also confirmed that payments to the company had been withheld “several times” for non-adherence to deadlines.
Confirming the meeting with the CM, a DSC spokesperson denied the charges. ‘‘A project like this normally takes three years but we are doing it in 18 months using advanced Norwegian technology,’’ said the spokesperson. ‘‘It is progressing smoothly but recent progress has been slow because of shifting of utilities, coordination with Railways and unexpected hard rock encountered during excavation. We will meet the June-end deadline. There have been some cases in which due to non-performance, payments (to sub-contractors) have been delayed but on the whole there have not been any disputes or the project would not have reached the advanced stage of completion that it is in now.’’